Federation of Indian American Christian Organizations (FIACONA) Pray for a Persecuted Church
 Federation of Indian American Christian Organizations (FIACONA)Pray for a Persecuted Church

PRESS RELEASE

(updated/corrected @ 12 noon)

 

FIACONA Accuses Modi Government of Hampering Relief Efforts of Christian Charities by Mandating More Red Tape:


May 16, 2021, Washington DC. Federation of Indian American Christian Association of North America (FIACONA) accused the Government of India of hampering the efforts of non-governmental agencies (NGOs) in the middle of the pandemic. 


The government of India implemented a set of bureaucratic regulations by amending a 1976 law called Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) last September. Christian charities and other non-governmental organizations (NGOs) across India are required to have permission under this 1976 law to receive donations from overseas.

 

The new amendment put in place in the middle of a pandemic last September mandated the charities to open a new bank account at a particular New Delhi branch of the State Bank of India, before March 31, 2021, regardless of where the charity is located or operating from. Additionally, after they open such an account they are required to get additional approval from the Ministry of Home Affairs to operate that new account.

 

Many charities have managed to open this account in New Delhi before the deadline as directed while many others could not. But even those who managed to open the account before the deadline have run into bottlenecks and red tape. Many charities have pointed out that corruption and nuanced procedures are common problems besides the absence of many officials who have not showed up to work due to COVID situation. As a result charities are unable to receive much needed funds to help the suffering  people during this pandemic. 

 

“The current stringent FCRA rules that were put in place by the Government are jeopardizing many donor’s plans to provide equipment like oxygen concentrators and other essential supplies from around the world in providing needed help to hospitals especially in rural areas” said Mr. Koshy George, President of FIACONA.

 

“Unless the Modi Government shows more flexibility towards charitable donations from abroad by suspending some of these bureaucratic provisions of the FCRA, more lives would be lost as a result” Mr. George cautioned.

 

These FCRA regulations were put in place for the purpose of monitoring and controlling Christian and other religious minority charitable and educational institutions as part of the Hindu nationalist agenda to minimize their appeal and reduce their influence on the society at-large. 

 

Other secular NGOs who would not toe the government line also paid a price. 

 

However, NGOs affiliated with Hindu nationalist groups continue to collect money from unsuspecting donors in Western Countries and channel them mostly towards sectarian work without any hindrance from authorities.

 

FIACONA appeals to the Indian Government to suspend these rules that created the current impediments and submit them later for a panel review to ease the restrictions on a permanent basis so that the needy will not suffer in a future crisis. 

 

For Media enquiries please email press@fiacona.org

 

Latest News

Coronavirus: India records 311,170 new cases, 4,077 deaths in a day.

May 16, Scroll.in

The number of active cases stood at 36,18,458, while the recoveries climb to 2,07,95,335.
India registered 3,11,170 new coronavirus cases on Sunday, pushing the country’s tally of infections since the pandemic began to 2,46,84,077. The toll rose by 4,077 to 2,70,284.
Globally, the coronavirus has now infected 16.22 crore people and killed over 33.65 lakh since the pandemic broke out in December 2019, according to Johns Hopkins University.
The national helpline number is 011-23978046, and the toll-free number is 1075...

Why the Modi Government's 'Positivity' Narrative on COVID-19 Vaccination Plan Doesn’t Add Up.

May 16 The Wire

Graphs and charts released by the government this week made bombastic claims and projections that don't stand up to serious scrutiny.
If the Government of India is to be believed, Indians have much to celebrate – and be positive about – these days. That sounds good, until you scratch at the surface of the its claims.
“Celebrate the power of positivity and the strengths of 130 crore Indians” – Prime Minister Narendra Modi exhorted in a tweet. There should be “better communication” of the government’s “positive” work – so went the message to officials of the Government of India (GoI) during an official workshop. Counter the “one-sided narrative” against India in the global media, Indian embassies and high commissions were instructed by the minister for external affairs....

Modi govt Refuses to Reveal Why Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) Was Amended, Even as Changes Impair NGOs’ COVID Aid Efforts

May 16, The Wire

Even as non-government organisations (NGOs) face severe fund shortages due to changes in the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) effected by the Centre last year – which has adversely impacted their ability to reach out to the poor and marginalised in both rural and urban areas during the second wave of the coronavirus in India – the Centre has repeatedly thwarted attempts by Right to Information (RTI) activists to access details surrounding the reasons why the Act was amended.
The Wire had last year reported that leading NGOs believed that changes to the FCRA would deal a crushing blow to the voluntary sector and impact its ability to collaborate and conduct research.
They argued that the changes effected ...

Latest News

Indian Generals Blast Government for Withholding Life-Saving Army Aid From Its Own People.

May 14 The Daily Beast

With India ravaged by an unprecedented second wave of the COVID-19 virus—and its health-care system on its knees—some public health and former military officials are voicing outrage over the government’s apparent refusal to use the full force of the army to assist with the crisis.
“The army is not being utilized to the fullest extent,” even though it has “tremendous capacities” to ease the current disaster, Deependra Singh Hooda, former chief of the Indian army’s strategic northern command, told The Daily Beast.
For weeks experts have been pleading with the government, urging it to rope in the military to help with a health crisis never before seen in India’s modern history.
Earlier this month, the deputy chief minister of the country’s capital, Delhi—which is facing the worst COVID ...

The bodies of suspected COVID-19 victims turning up in River Ganges.

May 13 The Week 

The bodies of suspected COVID-19 victims are turning up in Indian rivers
The bodies of suspected COVID-19 victims continue to wash up in rivers across India, and many believe the corpses are being dumped due to overrun crematoriums and scarce and expensive firewood.
In the state of Bihar, 70 bodies were found floating in the Ganges River, with dozens more discovered upstream in the neighboring state of Uttar Pradesh; a net has since been placed in the river near the border to keep bodies from going downstream, The Guardian reports. In Madhya Pradesh state, bodies have been found in the Runj River, a source of water for villagers and livestock. Officials will take DNA samples from all of the bodies before burying them in a mass grave.
India is experiencing a surge in COVID-19 cases, with rural areas increasingly...

A recently-imposed law in India is preventing local charities from accessing foreign donations, as the country keeps struggling with COVID-19.

May 13 Business Insider

India is struggling to bring its rampant COVID-19 outbreak under control.
Around the world people and companies have donated oxygen and PPE, and millions of dollars.
But a law is stopping charities from distributing aid to smaller groups, making it hard to reach those in need.
See more stories on Insider's business page.
Donations to help India fight its raging COVID-19 outbreak are flooding in from around the world, but a new law is preventing many nonprofits from using the money effectively.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government passed an amendment to the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act last September. The amendment effectively prevents local NGOs from redistributing donations to smaller aid groups.
India is currently ...

STATEMENT

 

FIACONA WELCOMES THE THE ANNUAL REPORT FROM STATE DEPARTMENT

(In favor of publishing)

 

May 12, 2021, Washington, DC. The Federation of Indian American Christian Organizations (FIACONA) welcomes the Annual Religious Freedom Report released today by the State Department. 

 

According to the US State Department, “ there were reports of religiously motivated killings, assaults, riots, discrimination, vandalism, and actions restricting the right of individuals to practice and speak about their religious beliefs.”.

 

The number of incidents hindering the rights of the people to believe and practice their faiths have gone up several times in many parts of India for the reporting period.

 

The fact that India prides herself as a democratic state makes it even more critical for her to behave like one respecting the fundamental rights of every citizen and not undermine any sections of the society.

 

The President of FIACONA Mr. Koshy George said, “I am worried that the persecution of Christians and other religious minorities continues even during the Coronavirus lockdown and Prime Minister Modi’s silence on these critical issues is very disheartening. ”

 

He also said, “Thousands of NGOs have their hands tied from providing relief for millions of people suffering from COVID 19 infections in India, because of lack of funds after the government of India restricted the flow of funds to thousands of Christian charities”.

 

Mr. John Prabhudoss, the Chairman of FIACONA pointed out that despite holding elections, India has become an "autocracy". India is a democracy only on the paper. Unfortunately, a substantial percentage of the population seems to approve of the direction in which the country is headed", he said.

 

It is becoming more and more common knowledge that non-state actors like the militias affiliated with Mr. Modi’s BJP government are increasingly violent in the past few years. Many of these non-state actors are also well represented in the government at both state and national levels. 

 

FIACONA strongly recommends that the US government must stop shying away from taking the lead in sanctioning non-state actors and specific individuals in India who advocate and/or perpetrate violent acts against Christian and other religious minorities.

 

FIACONA urges President Biden to validate the finding of this report on India and accept the recommendations put forward by USCIRF when such sanctions could still be useful instead of waiting until the situation deteriorates further in India. 

 

It is time for the US and the world to understand the serious threat posed by the Hindu nationalist movement to stability and security in the region.

 

The United States and the International community must understand that only an equitable, peaceful, and progressive society that is not affected by internal civil unrest could truly become a productive partner in trade and security. A religiously volatile and socially disturbed society within India will be detrimental to the interest of the international community not just in South Asia but across the Indian Ocean Corridor and beyond.

 

FIACONA asks the International governments, especially the industrialized nations to tread cautiously in endorsing or encouraging Hindu nationalist forces in India. 

 

FOR MEDIA INQUIRIES PLEASE CONTACT
JOHN PRABHUDOSS: JOHN@FIACONA.ORG
KOSHY GEORGE: PRESIDENT@FIACONA.ORG

 

YOU COULD ACCESS THE STATE DEPARTMENT'S  REPORT ON INDIA  HERE

STATEMENT

 

FIACONA SUPPORTS THE USCIRF AND ITS COMMITMENT TO THE CAUSE OF 

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN INDIA DESPITE CHALLENGES:

(In favor of publishing)

 

 

May 10, 2021. Washington DC. The Federation of Indian American Christian Organizations (FIACONA) greatly appreciates the work of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF). FIACONA recognizes and applauds the commitment of the Commissioners and the professional staff to the cause of Religious Freedom around the world despite pressure from various quarters and at times from within. 

 

The work of USCIRF is particularly important in India, as the governance and the justice systems there have often failed to defend the rights of Christians. Confirmed reports indicate that police are also joining in mob violence against Christians lately in many parts of India. In many instances, the courts have blatantly favored the attackers instead of Christian victims. (The case against Pastor Manu Damor and his wife is the most recent confirmed example of such an incident where the Pastor was arrested on April 4th and remains in jail as of May 4th for holding an Easter Sunday worship for Christian families in the Indore district of the Central Indian state of Madya Pradesh).

 

Anti-conversion laws, passed by many BJP ruled states have been weaponized to attack Christians rather than dissuading fraudulent conversions. At the same time, forced Ghar Wapsi, or “homecoming/re-conversion,” ceremonies of Christians to Hinduism are becoming a common occurrence with the apparent approval of the BJP governments across India. India’s Christians have become victims of religiously motivated violence in the hands of vigilante mobs that are supported and encouraged by the members of the ruling BJP. 

 

In the face of such difficulties, the work of USCIRF becomes immensely important. It is vital for USCIRF to speak with one voice and highlight the sufferings of Christian populations in vulnerable parts of the world particularly in India as India is evolving into an ‘elected autocracy’ far from being a parliamentary democracy.

 

FIACONA appreciates the USCIRF’s commitment and solidarity with the Church in India in the face of growing pressure. The majority of the Commissioners have shown great resistance to pressure from Hindu nationalists and their proxies. We applaud their resolve to stand in solidarity with the Indian Church at the hour of their need.

 

FIACONA congratulates Ms. Anurima Bhargava on her appointment as chair of this important Commission. We pray that she will have the strength and wisdom to lead the Commission effectively in the right direction.

FIACONA demands the resignation of Commissioners Johnnie Moore and Gary Bauer from USCIRF for their stand against the Christian victims of religious violence in India.

 

You could find the copies of the letters demanding their resignation here.

 

Gary Bauer.

Johnnie Moore.

Latest News

India’s Christians Ask for Prayer as Virus Overwhelms Crematoriums.

May 7 Christianity Today

'With life-saving oxygen in short supply, families are left on their own to ferry people sick with COVID-19 from hospital to hospital in search of treatment as India is engulfed in a devastating surge of infections. Too often, their efforts end in mourning.
On social media and in television footage, desperate relatives plead for oxygen outside hospitals or weep in the street for loved ones who died waiting for treatment.
India has been setting global daily records of new coronavirus infections, spurred by an insidious new variant that emerged here.
On Friday, the number of new confirmed cases breached 400,000 for the third time since the devastating surge began last month. The 414,188 new cases pushed India’s official tally to more than 21.4 million, behind only the United States....

Woes of one-man rule. 

May 6 Matters India

When disasters take us by surprise, it is not the right time to find fault with one another. But if in the meantime those in command of the situation have gone blind and deaf, we are compelled to raise our voice lest we be destroyed all together.
Narendra Modi, no doubt, has many talents. But there are limits. If amid national tragedies he is lost in self-importance, the machinery under him collapses. Hubris has a price. That is what we are paying for. A word of apology has confidence-building power. That is still missing. Complacency kills. It is no use diverting the emotional attention of the masses from real issues with plates and pans, Bhumi pujans, temple-building, and Central Vista. There is a limit to irrational solutions to problems.
Cow-science has rescued neither Amit Shah nor Yogi in their moment of health crisis. The superiority of Indian science in Puranic ...

Police Rescue – then Jail – Christian Family Attacked in India. Authorities again succumb to pressure by Hindu extremists.

May 4 Morningstar News

Police in India who initially took a pastor and his family into custody to protect them from an attack by a 300-member Hindu extremist mob were pressured into jailing them under a baseless charge of forcible conversion, sources said.
Pastor Manu Damor, 35, remains in Depalpur jail a month after the Easter Sunday (April 4) attack on the worship service of five families at a Christian’s home in Rangwasa village, Indore District in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. Though Betma police had assured him and his wife that they would be allowed to go home morning after their first night of detention, they were instead charged with serious crimes and sent to two separate jails.
The pastor sent his two oldest children, ages 4 and 5, home with ..."

Latest News

India’s Supreme Court slams Modi government for mishandling the pandemic.

April 30 Asia News

Top court overturns attempt to muzzle social media that criticised the government for deaths caused by oxygen shortages and rising vaccine prices that will harm the poor. In Tami Nadu, High Court asks what the central government has done in 14 months to prevent the disaster.
Increasingly, Indian courts, including the Supreme Court, are getting actively involved in the ongoing pandemic debate, highlighting the responsibilities of the Modi administration for the disastrous situation in which the country finds itself.
In India, 386,452 new coronavirus cases have been reported the last 24 hours with 3,498 deaths, this despite the arrival of the first shipments of aid pledged by 40 various countries. Against this background, the Supreme Court of India ruled today that the central government and Indian states cannot silence those who express criticism on social media for situations related...

Fr Stan Swamy turns 84, in prison.

Apr 26 Asia News

The Jesuit clergyman has been in prison since 8 October 2020 for his work with tribal groups in Jharkhand, this despite his age and Parkinson's disease. However, this recurrence provides an opportunity not to forget his fate. Unjustly accused of “terrorism”, he has been denied bail twice. His situation is particularly difficult given his health and the COVID-19 pandemic that is causing havoc crosses India. On the occasion of his birthday, fellow Jesuit Fr Cedric Prakash wrote an open letter addressed to Fr Swamy, which we publish here.

Dear Stan,

It is rather unusual and certainly not normal to wish someone who is in prison “A Happy Birthday!” One’s birthday cannot be ‘happy’ in prison; however, in wishing you – we celebrate your life: your mission and your message and above all, those whom you have so closely identified with, all these years so “Birthday Greetings to you dear Fr. Stan!”

...'

Christian activists divided over USCIRF recommending India as 'country of particular concern

Apr 23 Christian Post

Christian activists are divided in their responses to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom again recommending the State Department place India on its list of “countries of particular concern” for the worst violations of religious freedoms in 2020.
In its latest report, the bipartisan commission mandated by Congress to advise lawmakers and the federal government recommended for the second year in a row that the administration impose targeted sanctions on Indian individuals and entities for “severe violations of religious freedom.”
“In 2020, religious freedom conditions in India continued their negative trajectory. The government, led by the Bharatiya Janata Party, promoted Hindu nationalist policies resulting in systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom,” notes...

STATEMENT

FIACONA WELCOMES THE USCIRF DESIGNATION OF INDIA AS A COUNTRY OF PARTICULAR CONCERN:

 

April 21, 2021. Washington DC. The Federation of Indian American Christian Organizations applauds the designation of India as a Country of Particular Concern (CPC) by the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) today in Washington.

 

India has been going through tumultuous upheavals caused by the rise of Hindu nationalism in recent years. The formation of a national government by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in 2014 under Mr. Narendra Modi has seriously jeopardized the fundamental constitutional rights of a vast majority of Christians and other religious minorities in modern India.

 

The Hindu nationalist cadre are given unofficial protection from the Administration for their vigilantism against the Christian population. Meanwhile, India based organizations have reported that the attacks on churches and prayer meetings have dramatically gone up from even last year.

 

The justice system has often failed to defend the rights of persecuted Christians and other minority religions. Police have joined in mob violence against Christians, filed reports against the victims, and courts have given favor to the attackers.

 

Anti-conversion laws, rather than dissuading “fraudulent conversions” have been weaponized in several states to stop conversions of any kind. At the same time Ghar Wapsi, or “homecoming,” ceremonies of forceful conversion to Hinduism are applauded.

 

Incidents of anti-Christian violence rose from 147 in 2014, when Mr. Modi became prime minister, to 328 in 2019. India’s Christians suffered “225 incidents of religiously motivated violence” in just the first ten months of 2020, many at the hands of vigilante mobs. 

 

During the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, Christians in rural areas faced more opposition than ever as a result of their faith. According to Open Doors, Christians now face “economic problems as well as the opposition and hatred from the community.”

 

Additionally, Christians in India have been denied emergency COVID relief: some being told that “your church or your God should feed you”. Reportedly, more than 80,000 Christians were turned away from official government food distribution points, and had to seek aid elsewhere.

 

With all of these considerations in mind, FIACONA whole-heartedly agrees with USCIRF in their decision to continue the designation of India as a CPC for the year 2021.

 

As far as the Commissioner who disagrees with the majority decision on recommending India as a CPC, he has not only violated the mandate he has been given to study and report incidents of violence against a people of particular religious faith in a country but he has also agreed with the aggressors who are determined to hurt the 2000 year old church in India. So, we recommend that he floats once again down the Ganges to reflect on his monumental error in judgement and resign from the Commission.

 

Latest News

Jailed Indian Jesuit moves high court seeking bail.

Apr 29 UCA News

An elderly Indian Jesuit priest has approached Bombay High Court seeking his release on bail a month after a special court twice turned down his bail plea. Father Stan Swamy’s legal team on April 26 filed a bail application in the high court of Maharashtra state in western India, said Father A. Santhanam, a Jesuit who is monitoring the case. The latest move comes a month after a special court of the National Investigation Agency (NIA), the federal anti-terror agency, denied the priest bail for a second time on March 22. Father Swamy was jailed on Oct. 9 last year, a day after the NIA arrested him on charges of sedition and links to a banned Maoist group. “He has been in prison for over 200 days. He approached the special court twice seeking his release on bail, but unfortunately his demands were rejected after the probe agency opposed it,” Father Santhanam told UCA News on April 29. He said it was “quite unfortunate” that the special court did not even...

Campaign Launched to Discredit Christian Groups in Nepal.

Apr 28 Morningstar News

In a ploy to revoke registration of Christian organizations and shrink their influence, Hindu extremists in Nepal have forged a document as if from Christian groups portraying them as seeking ethnic divisions to gain converts, sources said. The document falsely attributed to the Nepal Christian Society and the National Churches Fellowship of Nepal asserts that unless they can cause divisions in the upper-caste Brahmin and Chhetri communities, conversions to Christianity are not possible, said Mukunda Sharma, executive secretary of Nepal Christian Society. After the fabricated document went viral on social media, members of the Hindu nationalist Rastriya Prajatantra Party (RPP) used it to demand that registrations of Christian charities be cancelled, Sharma said. Reportedly appearing first on Hindu nationalist leaders’ Facebook accounts on April 5, the fake document soon went viral...

Christian Pastor Paraded, Injured, Forced into Hindu Ritual.  

Apr 20 Morningstar News

Christian Pastor Paraded, Injured, Forced into Hindu Ritual
Pastor Sanjay Bhandari had taken his wife for a medical check-up earlier this month when they decided to visit her sister in the same area in Karnataka state, southwest India – only to be attacked as they were drinking tea. “While we were still having tea, a few men barged inside the house and, grabbing me by my shirt collar, they dragged me outside, accusing me of carrying out conversions,” Pastor Bhandari told Morning Star News. “I tried very hard to explain that it was my relatives’ house, and that we were only paying them a casual visit, but the men refused to listen.” The Hindu extremists in Halaga village, near Belgaum city, Belgaum District also ignored the pleas of his wife’s family that day, April 5. The men took Pastor Bhandari outside, where 50 to 60 Hindu extremists were waiting, he said. The mob paraded him a mile to the rented worship hall...

Get involved and show the world you matter.

Optional
* indicates required
Tweets from Indian American Christians @Fiacona_us
Print Print | Sitemap
© FIACONA - All Rights Reserved